Water Features and Fountains

The Benefits of Water Features and Fountains

Are you looking for something to really bring some pizzazz to your outdoor space? One way to make a bold statement and enhance your outdoor space is to install a water feature. There are a few different types of water features you can go with, depending on your space and budget. Water features have plenty of benefits, such as providing a restful area to relax. Who doesn’t enjoy listening to water running over a waterfall? Whether you decide on a relaxing koi pond, waterfall, fountain, or a reflecting pool, they all bring a sense of “wow” to your landscape.

One of the most popular options is a natural pool. These are made by lining a hole in the ground with a rigid or flexible liner. These can be made to look very natural, and you can decide how big or small they will be. Installation is simple, but you must ensure you have a power source to run a submersible pump and filtration system. Adding a fountain will help hide the noise of the pump and keep the water moving. Additionally, Koi are great additions to small ponds. Koi are brightly colored fish that are fun to watch and will sometimes come up to the surface to see if you have food for them.

If you would like to do a small water feature, you can go with a container pond. These have been made from wine barrels, casted concrete, and large glazed planter pots. One benefit is there is no need to dig and this will not take up a lot of space. For a little added flair, you can add some fish or waterlilies. You will still need to install a filter and a pump so the water keeps moving and clean. These containers may be deep so use caution if there will be small children or pets close by.

Another option is a wall fountain, which is good for small areas and usually come in kits. The plumbing and wiring can be hidden behind the fountain. This type of water feature is usually a basin that catches the water and a pump that circulates the water back to the top to gently make its way back down to the basin. An adjustable valve will give you the choice of a rapid-running fountain or a light trickle. The kits can be expensive, but if you have an idea and some time, you can build your own and possibly save money. Building it from scratch gives you more liberties to work with your area and fill the space you want to be the focal point.

Probably the most extensive and biggest water feature would be a stream. These can require a lot of digging and designing. Streams need to be fairly long and usually end by flowing into another water feature or a natural pool. This is a great option to add to an existing water feature on your property.

There are a few items to remember when planning your water feature. Keeping your pond clean and pleasing to the eye will take some work but the enjoyment will be worth it. The biggest factors will be filtering the water to keep out algae from taking over and the water needs to be kept moving to help keep it oxygenated and fresh.

 

The Benefits of Dog Parks

Dog Parks – Property Amenity

In the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households have at least one pet. With dogs continuing to be one of the most popular household pets and this number continuing to increase, dog leash laws are becoming more strict. This may leave dog owners wondering where their dogs can run and play freely. Many developments are adding dog parks as an amenity to attract dog owners and help solve this problem for the growing dog population. Here are a few pros and cons of adding a dog park to your community:

How Does a Dog Park Benefit a Community?
Dog parks make communities safer by having a place for dogs to play and socialize. Rather than running freely in an open field or cul-de-sac, dog parks are enclosed, thus limiting the opportunity for incidents. Dog parks can also help reduce the number of troublesome dog encounters by encouraging owners to socialize their pets.

How Does a Dog Park Benefit the Residents?
Dog parks can also bring the community closer by having a place for dog owners to meet and socialize while creating a dog-friendly network within a community. Dog parks can also benefit older residents and residents with disabilities who may not be able to take their dogs on long walks.

What Are the Disadvantages of Dog Parks?
Like all things, dog parks come with their own set of disadvantages. For one, while we may think we understand our dogs, we can never predict our pets’ behaviors. The potential danger from aggressive dogs and injuries from dog-related incidents are something to consider. Other things to consider are those who leave their dogs unattended or those who do not pick up after their dogs.

All things considered, any additional amenities to a community will boost the property value and attract a wider range of potential residents. As the dog population continues to grow, dog parks are beneficial and something to consider.

 

Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal and Spring Tips

Research shows that people form a first impression within seven seconds of seeing something novel. Whether your concern is to maintain property values, increase occupancy rates or improve the overall experience for visitors/tenants, curb appeal is a critically important element of your success. Below are several ideas to ensure your property always puts its best foot forward.

  1. Pay particular attention to high visibility areas. Street entrance sign monuments, building entrances, and courtyards are the highest visibility areas and offer the best opportunity to make an impression. These are the areas to spend for high-impact items such as annual flowers, planters, and fountains. These areas should always be in immaculate condition. No weeds, debris, trash, or gum on the sidewalks. Remember, you have only seven seconds to impress your guest!
  2. Trees and shrubs should be neatly pruned to eliminate low-hanging branches, crossing branches, and any dead material. Associated beds should be mulched and weed-free.
  3. Turfgrass areas should be lush, deep green, and weed-free. Turfgrass areas should also be properly trimmed and edged to give a clean, crisp appearance.
  4. Does your choice of plant material complement your building structure? Plant shape, texture, and color can all be utilized to enhance the look of your building. While “looser” or “floppy” plants can be excellent choices for residential cottage-style gardens, they may not be the best choice for more formal sites such as office complexes or retail centers.
  5. Don’t forget the night! Just because the sun has set doesn’t mean people stop looking at your property. Consider up-lighting of specimen plants and/or building facades to make your property sizzle at night.

Earth Day

What We Can Do to Help Our Planet

We all know our planet is an amazing place, and now more than ever we must strive to protect and promote the beauty of our one and only planet earth.

Earth Day is an event held every year on April 22nd to raise awareness and bring support to the protection and sustainability of the Earth’s environment.

The first Earth Day occurred in Wisconsin in 1970 and spurred both national and international rallies across the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated by nearly 140 countries that strive to protect our planet from environmental dangers.

Here are some things you can do not just on Earth Day but every day to help reduce your environmental impact:

1. Plant a tree!
2. Pick up litter and recycle when possible
3. Reduce water and electricity usage
4. Minimize single-use plastic bags by using reusable tote bags.

When we all come together, we can make the world a cleaner, healthier place to live.

Turf Care

The Benefits of Adopting a Well-Rounded Turf Care Program

The grass is always greener on the other side…or is it? While the grass may appear greener, it may not actually be grass at all. There is one type of green growth many fail to recognize or consider: turf weeds.

So, what’s the big deal? If all the turf areas on my site are green, all is well, right? Not necessarily. Like grass, many turf weeds are, in fact, green. Some are extremely easy to spot, while others may take a trained eye to point out.

You may wonder if weeds in your turf are really an issue. I’ll keep things simple and give you two main reasons why turf weeds are highly undesirable. The first is this: weeds in the turf “steal” available nutrients and water from the healthy, desirable grass. This can cause the grass to weaken and become more susceptible to bigger issues like drought and disease. Another reason is that many turf weeds are just downright unsightly. There is a reason the expression “growing like a weed” exists. Many weeds grow extremely quickly when fueled by a combination of heat and rain, much faster than the grass grows. This can cause a lack of uniformity and makes the turf look disheveled and unkempt between mowing visits, especially if visits are delayed due to rain. Remember, rain plus heat equals weeds.

Luckily, there are ways to combat those pesky weeds. A good turf care program will accomplish three main things: the prevention of new weeds, the elimination of existing weeds, and the strengthening of the healthy turf.

Firstly, a preemergent herbicide should be applied in the early spring to prevent weeds before they even begin to present themselves. This is by far the most efficient way to control weed issues; however, some weeds are bound to make their way through. Also, preemergent will not kill existing weeds.

For existing weeds or weeds that are able to sneak past the preemergent application, selective herbicides should be used to combat and kill the weeds without harming the healthy grass.
In addition to the various herbicide applications, any well-rounded turf program will include multiple rounds of fertilization. Fertilizer contains macronutrients, like nitrogen, which help condition the soil. In turn, the grass is set up for success. The grass will be able to grow a stronger root system, which directly contributes to more efficient water intake. This helps the lawn to grow much thicker and fuller overall, which is an important factor in crowding out/choking out weeds.

A turf program takes time to be completely effective – it is not an overnight wonder or a miracle cure. However, if followed consistently over time, the change in the appearance of your turf can be night and day. You too can have uniform turf that even golf courses would be proud of. If you have never considered a turf care program, it is never too late to start reaping the benefits.

What is IPM?

What is Integrated Pest Management?

With industry focus continually shifting towards sustainable products and practices, the utilization of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for pest control and plant health has become increasingly popular in landscape maintenance.

IPM is a way to manage and improve plant health by the prevention of pest activity, suppression of pests, and the preservation of beneficial insects. Additionally, the program focuses not only on insects or animals but diseases and weeds that can also have a detrimental effect on plant health. The program uses today’s most effective organic and non-organic chemicals to provide prevention, repulsion, and mitigation of pests in landscaping.

The IPM approach differs from the standard pest management as the goal is to minimize pest activity and damage while preserving insects or micro-organisms from the landscape, as most insects in our landscapes do not damage the growth or health of our plants. This method takes a more scientific and knowledge-based approach than the chemical-intensive nature of standard pest control methods.

Contact us today to discuss your pest management strategy.

Cherry Laurel

Critical Factors for Choosing a Landscape Contractor

Choosing a Landscape Contractor

Choosing a professional landscape contractor is sometimes a daunting task. There are several things to consider before you make that decision. Be sure you share your reasons for making a change and what you would like to see changed. This will ensure these issues do not continue. It’s important to do some research as most landscape contractors have websites that will tell you about the company and what sets them apart. Landscaping is one of the first things you see when you visit a property and it takes a lot of dedicated work to make sure it looks its best.

A landscape company that has been around a while has done so by making sure they keep their clients happy. Changing names and rebranding could be a sign that they needed to change due to service issues or new management. Look for association affiliations, awards, and horticultural certifications, and make sure they have the proper licenses to provide all landscape services.  

When you receive proposals, it is best to go over them with the landscaper. If you do not provide a scope of work, there are a lot of items to discuss. A good scope of work will help align your goals and clarify what services you require. A good landscape company will be able to assess your property and, based on what you want, they will be able to provide a scope of work to fit your goals.  

It’s necessary to look for companies that put emphasis on safety. Having a company that promotes safety not only keeps them working but it also ensures they are doing the job correctly.  Safety should be about the crews doing the work and it should also be about the crews looking out for the safety of others and your assets.

Be sure to ask for references and visit some of their current jobs. Nothing is better than seeing what kind of work they do than seeing it in person. It is a good idea to ask for similar types of properties. Most landscapers have a variety of work ranging from industrial sites that only need the basic services up to high-end work that requires a full scope of services. Make sure they have a location close to your property. If they are too far away, you may pay more due to traveling and you want a company with ties to the community. Landscaping is all about making your property look its best, and you want someone that takes pride in where they live and how their community looks.  

Asking the right questions, visiting current work, and knowing a little history about the contractors will help you make a good decision when looking for a new landscape contractor. Feel free to call and set up a time to walk around your property, discuss your ideas, and ask for suggestions. A great landscape company wants to build a long-lasting partnership and provide you with amazing curb appeal. 

How to Craft an RFP

The RFP process can be a daunting task for property managers and community board members alike. The bid process contains many technical elements that can be a challenge to align with your needs, particularly for individuals with limited landscaping knowledge. The good news is that with a little planning, you can create an RFP that clearly defines your expectations and determines the best overall value in a landscape contractor.

First, it is important to determine why you are putting the property out to bid. Are you unhappy with the quality of service from your current provider? Are you bidding simply as a price check or part of due diligence? Do you need a landscaper who can provide more comprehensive services than your current provider? Whatever the reason, your RFP should address the reasons you are considering a change. For example, if you are dissatisfied with pruning but your RFP only calls for one occurrence, changing providers will not address your need.

Secondly, the RFP should help crystalize your goals, objectives, and priorities. Some common objectives our customers have shared include:

  • Improve landscape quality to improve curb appeal, increase property values or occupancy rates.
  • Create short- and long-term property improvement plans to effectively manage a fiscally responsible budget.
  • Establish a consistent landscape theme across the entire site or portfolio of sites.
  • Partner with a proven industry leader who can proactively manage all elements of your landscape: mowing, tree services, irrigation, snow/ice management, landscape designs, and installation.
  • Reduce time spent managing your landscape contractor.

Lastly, a thorough RFP will determine the bidder that best fits your needs. A qualified bidder should have and be able to prove the following:

  • Positive, quality references on similar types of projects.
  • Depth of resources, capabilities, and experience.
  • Quality, safety, and training programs.
  • Up to date licenses and appropriate insurance.
  • Tenured employees with significant industry experience.

A well-written RFP is a powerful tool in maintaining the value of your property. Chapel Valley is happy to review your current RFP and make suggestions on possible improvements. A little preparation now will pay dividends in terms of the time you save managing your landscaper and the overall appearance of your property for years to come.

Beautifully landscaped courtyard

 

Four Season Interest in Commercial Landscape

Using the Right Plants to Provide a Four-Season Interest in Commercial Landscape

While we can see an increase of interesting trends for commercial properties, there are still many sites with overgrown evergreen vegetation and a few pockets with annual flowers. Landscape enhancements can improve the appearance of these properties, including more than just a flower rotation when adding color. With the right landscape design, commercial sites can transform into beautiful spaces with plants that thrive in each season. 

Currently, with COVID-19 shaping the way we live and work, we recognize the importance of spending time outside. This especially relates to a workplace, where employees can benefit from spending time outdoors. Working in a natural environment allows for a connection with nature, therefore it is important to provide the right plants that will continue to provide attention through the whole year. The idea of all-season interest is to include the plants that provide ornamental attributes in one season and overlapping with another group that provides interest in the following season. Certainly, most plants display an interest in spring and summer, however, there are multiple plant options to make fall and winter attractive as well.

Spring and summer interests are known for providing showy blooms and interesting textures. After the winter is over, people want to see colors, so the earliest blooms are found in spring bulbs. The swaths of early-blooming daffodils and later drifts of tulips add a desired color to the landscape. We also like to use the spring-blooming ornamental trees, like cherry and magnolia to bring eye-catching flowers. Dogwoods and redbuds are also popular spring-blooming native trees that we use in commercial landscapes. When it comes to shrubs, many commercial sites are still covered with the popular old-fashioned forsythia, but we like to often replace it with native fothergilla and itea. These shrubs also offer a beautiful fall color.

By late spring, many trees and shrubs are leafed out, giving way to bloom. One of the popular shrubs in April and May is encore azaleas. There are multiple varieties of this relatively new species which provide a multi-season interest and require less maintenance than the traditional azaleas. Besides blooming in spring, encore azaleas rebloom in fall and stay evergreen through the winter. Another newly introduced plant that we have tried and can recommend is dwarf lilacs for late spring color and little lime hydrangea for early summer stunning flowers. In addition to shrubs, we like using the long-blooming perennials, like daylily, Russian sage, catmint, coreopsis, and late summer blooms like sedum, or rudbeckia. 

In fall, a must-have color comes from red maples, but also shrubs like nandina, oakleaf hydrangea, and spirea can provide beautiful fall foliage. In combination with ornamental grasses and fall-blooming perennials, they provide an outstanding mix of contrasting colors and textures. There also are a few plant options for winter interest. We often use a multi-season red twig dogwood with attractive red stems, winterberry, known for its bright red berries, and ornamental trees like paperbark maple, or river birch with peeling bark. Ornamental grasses still look beautiful and soft in winter, before they will be cut back in early spring.  

We all want to enjoy the outdoors and work in a pleasant environment.  By making a few changes to the property, it is possible to provide an attractive and thriving landscape with multiple interests throughout the whole year. 

Seasonal Flower Installations

Seasonal Rotations

Few components of landscape can impact the impression and appearance of both a property and your company’s brand the way annual flower rotations can. An ongoing seasonal color program includes a planting schedule that can change with the seasons to add color and curb appeal to your property. Our team at Chapel Valley works to create distinctive color combinations in concurrence with our plant management programs to ensure plants thrive throughout the seasons. Whether it’s incorporating the bright and vibrant colors of spring and summer or the warmer colors of fall and the holiday seasons, you can trust that Chapel Valley will have your property looking its best. Contact us today to see how we can differentiate your property and branding through specialty seasonal color rotations!